#BOOKTHERAPY: Unrestrained Repression Inside Man Tiger

“My supposed to be-obnoxious essay of another Eka Kurniawan’s worldwide acclaimed book”

The authenticity of magical realism has been formed up in every first encounter with Eka Kurniawan startling prose. Settling in folk tale impression with juggernaut rhetoric of wittiness, his story remains itself in the midst of the real and the unreal. Beauty is A Wound-his first novel- is a historical anguished synecdoche for millennial reluctances, told in capricious plot the story broads with thick element of magic and mythical happenstances and calamities. Man Tiger is still as masculine as his predecessor with the same mainsprings called vengeance, but if Dewi Ayu-in Beauty is A Wound- holds vengeance as her power to conquer her repressions, the predicament from a high-skilled young hunter-Margio- represents a prolong repression that cause an amiss avenge. In Man Tiger, Eka bestows his mythical figure, a tiger, as a symbol which contemplates Margio’s tremendous revenge for his father, Komar bin Syuaib. Eka does not intergrade his mythical ingredient to the entire plot like what he has done in Beauty is A Wound, but he tries to construct the myth as a metaphor for his character’s harmful desire. These would have earned Man Tiger as one of his most realist creation alongside the supernatural vibes are merely shadowing around the story’s implication.


In Man Tiger, Eka bestows his mythical figure, a tiger, as a symbol which contemplates Margio’s tremendous revenge for his father.


The most personal conjugation with Man Tiger universe is the story performs an accuracy of mythical figure, the white tiger. Looking back to the day when my former schoolmate, who is capable interact with invisible figures, was hanging out in my house. He said there was a big white tiger in the front door immobilized him. According to his description, the tiger is white as a swan and big as a cow, the same depiction to what the tiger spirit described by Eka, the white tiger that come out-in Margio’s body. Eka’s childhood background when living in small village in Java makes him associated with this kind of creature. The white tiger-that day belonged to my sister, genuinely it belongs to my great grandfather who was originally born and raised in Banten, a province in Java that famously known with its dark magic and myth attraction. Like Margio who gets the tiger from his grandfather, my poor sister inherited from my great grandfather. But from whom my great grandfather had it? Hmm, he might be married to a tiger, two timing my great grandmother, like a tale that Ma Muah told young Margio at the porch as the night begin to rise.

Man Tiger illustration

What the story plants from its own conclusion it simply portrays the lucid concept of mother as every men’s paramour, it is far more than a simple affair indeed if reached to the character’s motive and forethought that can lead to more substantial comprehensive standpoints. In fact, the idea of a mother as the protagonist-especially man- as his love interest is not so strange in Indonesian literature-not long ago depicted by Indonesian author Ayu Utami in her semi-biographical novel Enrico’s Love Story (Cerita Cinta Enrico). The incision, Margio earns for being sympathized with his aloof, unsought mother, Nuraeni, who receives abusive actions from her husband-including predominant sexual intercourse (As far beyond, her misery caution actually came from her early marriage with Komar) is more than enough sense for Margio to avoid his own girlfriend, Maharani and conspicuous enough to break his heart then deciding to pull his trigger when hearing a man who is loved by his mother said he is not in love with her. It proves enough that Man Tiger is a romantic tragedy.


If Asian families are too awkward to show their compassion to each other, it is just better shouting hate to each other rather than shattering in muteness.


The tragedy recounts through the lack of reciprocal actions between family members. Margio’s family shows misleading behavior in expressing their true feelings, repudiate it. In daily they barely even speak to each other instead of having conversation with the house-hold tools in the kitchen and destroying others properties. They have been hating each other, they also feel bad for each other, but they keep their mouth shut and prefer letting the blame and affection that ferociously grow in their heart turn to be inevitable hostility, a diabolical beast. Nuraeni has never even spilled her frustrating dignity in being woman kind of role-doing house hold activity in the kitchen. Margio inadequates to stride across his repulsive father, Komar, to gratify his mother. Imprisoned by his status as his father child just make him stays as a powerless man. Mameh, the sober one, who just discerns her parent bleak relationship from a far. And Komar as the protagonist opposition, whom I sympathize to-cause of his suffering from the fallacy of ideal husband-father figure, only being remembered as lousy harsh man who tries to manipulate his wife by abducting her and selling her wedding ring. Komar do has good intention to his own family, before being depreciated and to redeem it he shoves his violence to Nuraeni. What comes from the other family member afterwards are more awful including betrayal and murder. This dysfunction provokes and questions the tyranny in patriarchal family, the formal obligation could become a disastrous border when the vain and despair remain in silence, unsolved without further dialogue or discussion for better understanding. The ascendancy that arisen in family tree it should been retreated as respect and advocacy not as repression, disdain, moreover jeopardy. If Asian families are too awkward to show their compassion to each other, it is just better shouting hate to each other rather than shattering in muteness.


The universe is slightly compelled with Eka’s preference spectacles, a village sets in post-Indonesia independence era residing by hypocrite conservative society such as Anwar Sadat-Margio’s victim, a flamboyant flick, also an insolvent artist whose house placed just one inch from the mosque-his relative invented- make him forced to pray. It is still Indonesia countrified civilization entertained by chicken fighting for gambling, dangdut concert, watching cult movie in fabric screen at the football field, submitting disaster belief of causing unfortunate event-in the night before Margio kills Anwar Sadat there was a huge furious storm-and also experiencing an incident of God punishment for a dead (bad) person-his body does not fit into his measured grave. If foreign readers presume this kind of society occurring far-far away from metropolis, they might be too gullible imagining Indonesia. Perversely, city in here a sort of place where people chilling out with classy house music is just a block from where people relaxing dangdut music. Big cities are prevalently inhabited by opportunists who move out from their hometown-the orthodox village. That’s why these primitive courtesy-which Eka also brings in Beauty is A Wound- indirectly as well close to urbanism.


It can be seen that the world he creates is plausible to be present but also an existing fantasy


Somehow, the macabre story orients the reader to get a little stumbling from his satire comical sentence that can be found in every paragraph-the term of its necessity is to convince his meticulous story illustration (I read Man Tiger in bahasa version and I cannot be an amateur English translator eradicating Eka’s marvelous phrases, sorry for not displaying any citation from this book). His oral narrative with addition of wittiness locution in deliberating Indonesian supernatural belief and exotic culture are like the prominent medium to build the absurd ludicrous realism with the prostate socio-politic. Entirely this can be seen that the world he creates is plausible to be present but also an existing fantasy.


The beauty seems (again) asserting the essential of women-hood, a pawn that further despised woman from her actual solace of reality which already broken by accusation she received.


Yet Eka presages women decency virtualized their radical reputation. How he mentioning in the book about the way woman attacking the other woman with her bare hand issome kind a reference to Margio’s attempt in killing Anwar Sadat, shreds his neck with his bare teeth. Most of female characters are outrageously praised by their surroundings through their physical appearance and visual beauty. Perceiving Beauty is A Wound, the matter of women still appeals as sexual attraction commodity, oh yes, the wound is unhealed. For instance, Nuraeni, her prettiness isn’t buried along with her soul in immense lamentation, in hence it takes to her second puberty. The beauty seems (again) asserting the essential of women-hood, a pawn that further despised Nuraeni from her actual solace of reality which already broken by accusation she received. There are also women who surpass with their incisive idiosyncrasy such as Ma Somah, an elder who just gives away the land she’s owned to the village entrants, or a breadwinner Laila designates supremacy in the seam of his husband disloyalty.

Man Tiger in The Man Booker International Prize 2016 Longlisted

While intriguing with Nuraeni disposition, there is a peculiar understanding about Margio’s love for his mother which has been wholeheartedly emphasized in his soul, without any emotive explanation triggered. There is no single moment in this book narrating Nuraeni affords a mother warmness to her children, Mameh or Margio. Is Man Tiger an instrument to unveil Eka’s compassion about the true beauty of woman shaped by a man point of view? Is he trying to compensate with an epiphany that love from a son to her mother can be as sincere as Anwar Sadat’s blood running in white floor? Does he evolve Nuraeni to become the invincible Dewi Ayu through Margio?


Afterwards, Man Tiger seems conscious enough putting literate manifestation in comprehensive subjects of irony, in a tale of romantic tragedy: a charades of sordid society; a dispute for family affair; and another cycle of woman prejudice. In this case, Eka cunningly benefit his supernatural touching to conjure a red herring. The tiger is perhaps empowered a soul whom he possessed, but also tarnish the soul deliquescently. It can be a mythical creature enraging the gory crime thriller that happen in the county of the third world, though the story propensity leads to picture him as a symbolic matter of repression and insufficient desire. If a nation is on demand recreating its own lucrative interstellar, the dream about subversive utopia will become a reality where solution cannot be escaped.

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